Dean reached the sign just an hour later. During his journey, he realized something important. Things were much farther in this Minecraft. In the computer game, things were often close enough together that you could reach them in 5, 10, or 15 minutes of travel.
But in Minecraft Monarchies, well . . . it took long enough that Dean was ready to find and tame a horse by the time he got to the sign.
“Hey, Dad, you down there?” Dean yell-asked from next to it. He kept his eyes wide open, watching for possible skeletons, zombies, or even more pillagers.
“Yeah,” he heard Dad yell back. “I’m hiding in the magic shop. I’ve got no weapons or anything and it’s still night time!”
Ah, the magic shop. Where a dumb villager had no doubt once lived a dumb life and then fallen off the edge to a very dumb death.
Dean smiled. Looked like it was very lucky for them that the shop was there. Because who knows how many times Dad would have died trying to get out of there without anyone to help him.
Trying to get your stuff back at night after you got killed was never an easy time. And here, facing it all in person, it felt downright scary!
Dean went down the first step of cobblestone stairs and followed the path, the lava flows of the canyon casting their warm light over all of it. Despite the blockiness of the game world it really was quite beautiful. He stopped and stared over it, basking in the sight.
He felt more than saw Dad come stand next to him.
“You got any regrets about coming into the game?” Dad asked.
Dean smiled. “No. None at all.”
“So, what do you think happens next?” Dad asked.
Dean turned and looked at his sillily spooky avatar. “It’s not really a minecraft thing, but I have a suspicion that if we go talk to Brian the Blacksmith, he might have a quest for us.”
Dad nodded, mulling it over like a mouthful of cranberry juice. “Quests in Minecraft. I guess we’ll have to try it out first, but I think I’m going to like it!”
Dad extended one blocky hand and Dean accepted it. Together they went back up the stairs and onto the road that led to the village. They walked all the way there, and Dad was relieved to see that most of his stuff was still waiting for him. There was a little bit of food missing, but he really didn’t mind that.
A lucky thing to get to keep most of your stuff when thieves killed you in an epic battle, he figured, and he let it slide.
The two of them first headed down together to visit the Colony of the Deep Dark, trading in some sticks for emeralds then using those emeralds to buy crossbows. After that, they headed back to Port City. By this time the sun was beginning to rise. They hurried, wanting to be there by the time Brian awoke.
And be in time is what they did. The villager stepped out his door just as the two of them crested the hill. He made his village “uh” noise and waved.
“Hey Brian,” Dean said, running forward to greet him. “How did you sleep?”
Brian smiled. “It could have been a bad night. I got a dispatch about our military outpost Camp Hazington being swarmed by pillagers. They’ve only got the one golem there to protect them as of now, so that sort of thing is very dangerous.”
“I bet,” Dad interupted. Both Dean and Brian gave him the stink-eye, and he looked away.
“Anyways, then I was told that two brave heroes were helping in the fight. I sent dispatches and called for golem reinforcements to come to help.”
“You are the leader of the kingdom?” Dean asked, his eyes big wide blocks.
“The Kingdom of Kanterberry Blockdom, if it pleases you,” he said, bowing. “Yeah, for now. The Port City Blacksmith is the Custodian every generation until the real kings come to prove their worth and claim the throne.”
He eyed the two of them appreciatively.
“Some might say that heroes fighting against an army of pillagers to defend a small little outpost and its resident farmers is a sign of worth. You wouldn’t happed to have seen who those heroes were, by chance?”
Dean and Dad smiled.
“We did what we could, Brian,” Dad said.
Dean nodded beside him.
Brian nodded his head. “There’s more worth to be proven, for sure. But I think there might be something to you two. I’ve got a quest for you, two of them actually. One before the other. And if this is something you are interested in, well, then maybe I can give you some emeralds as a sign of good faith that you’ll prove to be something greater later down the road. What do you think?”
Dad hopped up and down in joyful exuberance, but Dean cocked his head. “Kinda depends. What quests are we talking about?”
Brian nodded again. “Smart to ask. More worth proven.” He glared at Dad doing his up and down hops.
“Uh, yeah. Depends,” Dad said, clearing his throat and no longer hopping.
“The first quest is simple enough. The outpost took heavy damage last night and the farmers need help repairing the settlement if they are to be safely indoors by sun down tonight. For this you are going to need a lot of wooden planks. If you can get them situated before the monsters come, I will give you 10 emeralds.”
“For each of us?” Dad asked excitedly.
“Oh,” Dad said sadly.
“The 2nd quest is this. I need heroes to find the nearby pillager camp — and run them off. Kill them, scare them, do whatever it takes to keep them from attacking again. These pillagers did a lot of damage. And it is scary to think about how much more they could do if some heroes weren’t in the area to stop them. For this I will give you 50 emeralds.” He stopped and sighed. “So those are the quests. What do you say?”
“Fix the settlement? Yes, please!” Dad enthused.
“And kill the pillagers? My glowing magic sword is yours to command, Brian the Blacksmith,” Dean added.
Brian slapped his blocky hands together, making a sharp cracking noise. “Great! Then get off to it, you two. The days never go by slowly enough when we’ve got stuff to get done.”
Dean and Dad bid him farewell and headed back onto the path. Now that it was day, the hour long walk was quite pleasant. There were the woods to the one side, the great wide expanse of tall green grass to the other. Rabbits hopped here, chickens hopped there.
It all felt like a nice place to be.
“What would you think about us building a house here,” Dad asked. “It seems like the sort of place that’d be nice to wake up to. And it’s halfway between Port City and Camp Hazington.”
Dean thought for a little bit and then shook his head. “We don’t know how far we are going to be going. This is just the start. This game that we chose, we already know it has some big differences between it and Minecraft. I’m starting to think that it is Epic Minecraft. And epics aren’t ever short. Nor do the people in epics ever go just a small distance.”
Dad sighed. “I’m going to die a lot, aren’t I?”
Dean laughed. “I’ll try to keep you safe, but, yeah, probably.”
The two of them finished their journey and came upon the broken outpost. There were still little blazes sparking here and there, and two farmers bustled back and forth between the fires and the lake with one bucket between them, throwing water on it to put it out.
Dad and Dean shared a look. In regular Minecraft villagers couldn’t use a bucket. And buckets started rivers. They didn’t act like regular buckets. In fact . . .
“Dad, I think the bucket physics might be different here too. I didn’t think about it before, but when I dropped that lava . . . my bucket became empty. And the lava disappeared after a certain amount of time.”
Dad groaned. “I hope there isn’t too much new stuff to learn. I was having a hard enough time remembering the rules for vanilla Minecraft!”
Dean patted him on the back. “There, there. We’ll get it all figured out. The biggest lesson from last night was don’t mess with witches!”
“Mm-hmm,” Dad agreed, nodding.
The two of them still had plenty of wood in their inventory from chopping trees before, so they got straight to repairing. The farmers had finished off the last of the fires, so Dad and Dean plopped blocks everywhere they weren’t, and by the time the sun was setting, there was just one space left to be filled.
“You wanna do it, or should it be me?” Dad asked.
Dean plopped his block in. “Save your blocks for house-building. Maybe somewhere in the future we’ll need one.”
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